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The House appropriations committee of the Vermont legislature has rejected Gov. Richard A. Snelling's request for $320,000 in the fiscal 1984 budget to fund early-childhood-education programs in the state.

The money would have been used to cover the start-up cost of early-education programs for children aged 3 to 8 in about five school districts. (See Education Week, Feb. 23, 1983).

The legislative initiative, which was promoted by Governor Snelling during his re-election campaign, also would have meant additional state aid for school districts by allowing districts that now offer preschool programs to include those children in their student-enrollment counts for funding purposes.

The program's elimination last week by the House committee was part of an overall 2 percent reduction in the Governor's budget request for state education programs, according to Joyce Wolkomir, spokesman for the state department of education. The Governor had requested a 6 percent increase for education programs in the state.

Despite the committee's action, according to Ms. Wolkomir, the department intends to continue to plan and to train teachers for the program.

Hillsdale College plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the federal government can cut off tuition aid to the college's students because the college refuses to pledge that it will not discriminate on the basis of sex.

Late last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled partly in favor of the small private college located in southeastern Michigan in its lawsuit against the Education Department. The appeals panel, however, also ruled partly in favor of the government in that case, and it is that part of the ruling that the college plans to ask the high court to overturn, according to Joe Gillette, the college's public-affairs director.

In its Dec. 16 decision, the appeals panel ruled, in part, that the college was a "recipient" of federal aid because its students received federal grants. It also ruled that the government could cut off aid to the students if the college continued to refuse to sign an "assurance-of-compliance" form stating that it would not discriminate on the basis of sex.

"Those two points open the door for future harrassment," Mr. Gillette explained. "They are a threat hanging over the heads of our students for years to come."

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey have abandoned their efforts to seek testimony from some of the legislators who passed the state's mandatory "moment of silence" law in December.

Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, who is overseeing the case, said last week that "basically, we should be able to get any evidence we need elsewhere," according to Jeffrey E. Fogel, executive director of the state aclu

"There will probably be no direct interrogation of them" regarding their motives for passing the law, Mr. Fogel said.

The law was passed Dec. 16 by a legislative override of Gov. Thomas H. Kean's veto, and the aclu quickly filed suit charging that the law violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In January, Judge Debevoise halted the law pending outcome of the court challenge.

Vol. 02, Issue 26

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